Have Michigan football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Michigan mailbag to talk all things Wolverines. This week, we discuss recent injuries for the Wolverines, including the short-term and long-term status of quarterback Wilton Speight, and Michigan’s chances at making a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Will Wilton Speight play again for Michigan? — Bryon Maschari, via Facebook
The first concern for Wilton Speight and for the Michigan football program should be Speight’s health. That is paramount. A back or a neck injury is nothing to mess with, especially when it involves the spinal column. Speight’s first priority needs to be healing, and his second (or maybe third or fourth) should be football.
Harbaugh said there’s “a chance” Speight could come back this season. He sustained cracked vertebrae Sept. 23 in a 28-10 win at Purdue and hasn’t played since sustaining the back injury.
Speight, according to Harbaugh, is progressing quicker than expected. While he isn’t cleared for contact, Harbaugh said Monday that Speight is throwing and taking part in exercises.
For what it’s worth, Speight’s long-term future at Michigan hasn’t even been discussed. He will be a fifth-year senior in 2018.
How are Kareem Walker and Ty Isaac doing? The ankles healed enough to get them back on the field? — Doug Dreyer, via Facebook
Any news on Nico Collins? Saw him in brace and with crutches. Nothing too serious? — Sherry Labadie, via Facebook
Harbaugh typically doesn’t give particular injury updates unless they are long-term or season-ending injuries, but he shed some light Monday on Isaac, as well as wide receiver Grant Perry, offensive lineman Michael Onwenu and tight end Tyrone Wheatley.
Harbaugh didn’t give the nature of their injuries, but said “there’s a very good chance that all could be back Saturday, but questionable.”
Harbaugh, however, did not have any update on Collins, a freshman wide receiver. He also didn’t give an update on Walker, who sustained an ankle sprain Oct. 28 against Rutgers and was in street clothes on the sidelines Saturday against Minnesota.
Can Michigan still make it to the New Year’s Six bowl games? — Ryan Markham, via Facebook
A lot of things have to happen. First, Michigan has to win out. Second, it has to win the Big Ten East Division. Third, it has to win the Big Ten Championship.
Additionally, Michigan has to have several things happen outside of its control — there have to be several upsets in order for the Wolverines to get into the New Year’s Six conversation.
What hurts Michigan’s resume is its lack of what the College Football Playoff committee considers quality wins — wins against teams in the most recent CFP rankings. Michigan has none right now, which will make games Nov. 18 at Wisconsin and Nov. 25 at home against Ohio State valuable. Wins in those games would be even more valuable if Ohio State wins its next two games and if Wisconsin keeps winning (and the Badgers need to win, and win convincingly, if they want to be included in the playoffs).
The offensive line seemed to play better when Brandon Peters went in. Is that a statement on who they like as a QB more? — Troy Yorton, via Facebook
How the offensive line plays isn’t necessarily a matter of liking/respecting or disliking a quarterback — the coaches choose who plays at each position, and they don’t do it through a popularity contest.
But there is definitely a different complexion about the line now that Brandon Peters has taken over at quarterback. Peters has a different demeanor — he’s quietly confident and takes command of his offense without being bossy.
The offensive line, in particular, has made many adjustments and improvements since the start of the season.
“They’re settling in and getting to understand our concepts better and understanding the techniques and working with each other,” offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said on Detroit’s 97.1 FM (WXYT) earlier this week. “I think that’s huge. The backs are getting a feel how we’re blocking up front and letting the play express itself. They’re making strides every week.”
I mentioned this in a recent Facebook Live, but sometimes it’s better for a position group to struggle early and peak at an important time of the season (November) as opposed to flying out of the gates and collapsing down the stretch.
If we didn’t have Maryland and Rutgers in the Big Ten, maybe we’d have a stronger conference? #sorrynotsorry — Bob Moulton, via Facebook
This is actually a fun question for the mailbag — any thoughts on realignment always provides good fodder. Don’t anticipate that Maryland and Rutgers (or even Indiana and Illinois) are going to leave the Big Ten anytime soon. But in an alternate universe, subtracting those teams from the equation could create some more parity in the Big Ten.
Yet despite having six teams in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, Wisconsin is the only Big Ten team that is a legitimate contender for one of the four playoff spots. And Wisconsin has a tough challenge in that not only does it have to win out, but it has to win out resoundingly.
Here are my ballots for the Football Writers Association of America/National Football Foundation Super 16 poll and the Land of 10 Power Poll. I’ll include the ballots and links to the polls at the end of the mailbag each week.
|FWAA/NFF Super 16 ballot||Land of 10 Power Poll|
|1. Alabama||1. Wisconsin|
|2. Georgia||2. Ohio State|
|3. Notre Dame||3. Michigan State|
|4. Miami (Fla.)||4. Penn State|
|5. Oklahoma||5. Michigan|
|6. Clemson||6. Northwestern|
|7. Wisconsin||7. Iowa|
|8. TCU||8. Nebraska|
|9. Washington||9. Rutgers|
|10. USC||10. Purdue|
|11. Ohio State||11. Maryland|
|12. Oklahoma State||12. Minnesota|
|13. Auburn||13. Indiana|
|14. Penn State||14. Illinois|
|16. Mississippi State|
Have a question about Michigan football? Tweet us @Landof10Mich and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Michigan football mailbags here.
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